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that time was Deputy Chief Flying Instructor with close on 1,900 hours in my logbook. They said I had to settle down and stay. But I remembered my heroine of Trollope’s Palliser novels, Lady Glencora and her – ‘I hate to be beat. I’d rather be cut in pieces!’ I was not going to be beat.


* * * * * I


n the months preceding the end of my two years at Thornhill I had suffered increasingly from difficulty in hearing what my pupils were trying to tell me over the Gosport tube intercom. of the Harvard. Rubber tubes were no substitute for proper intercom. systems but they were all we had, and I found I was getting slightly short-tempered with pupils, telling them to shout up, and blaming everything except myself. Then I began to notice that even in the Mess I was missing what was being said and realised that I was just a shade hard of hearing. It gave me an idea. I began to exaggerate my deafness and my favourite response to anything my colleagues said to me was: ‘What was that you said?’


It gave me an excuse eventually to see S/Ldr Kelly, our Medical Officer, who confirmed little more than that I was definitely hard of hearing, and recommended that I should see the medical people at the Rhodesian Air Training Group Headquarters up in Salisbury. During the month of September I did no instructing and my logbook shows I had 1 hour 55 minutes with Heal, now a Wing Commander, on what is described in the log as ‘Patter practice’. My deafness was being taken seriously. On September 15th I flew up to Salisbury, landed at Belvedere, and attended a Medical Board. I was not inclined to try very hard to convince them I could hear and the result was as I had hoped – categorized as A4/BH which meant that I was unfit for further flying of any sort, and that I should be sent back home. The doctors I saw had no clear idea of what was causing my deafness. The Harvard is a very noisy aircraft, because at over 2,000 rpm the tips of its propeller, which is 11ft from tip to tip, exceed the speed of sound and it is this, not the engine, which creates its unique and piercing roar. So they thought this might have caused my problem, for by this time I had logged 1,100 hours in the Harvard.


Whatever the cause, I was now set for home. I said goodbye to all my colleagues and on October 10th, precisely and to a day two years after I had entered the Colony, I was flown down to Bulawayo and caught the train south to Durban for the last time.


They had told me ‘two years’ when I was first posted out there, and I was determined it should not be more, for that was long enough to be away from the family and long enough to be away from the real War. I had not been beat!


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